Don't Let March be Madness – Manage Your Time!
By Scott Barber
With March Madness officially underway, we got to thinking: almost all of the characteristics of a winning basketball team are true of a winning team in the workplace as well. Communication, teamwork, execution, and sound leadership come to mind, but there's one other critical factor that winning teams (and individuals) do well: they manage their time!
On a basketball court, we would call this controlling the flow of the game. The team that can dictate a flow that fits their strengths has a huge advantage. A team that can play fast when they need to and slow it down when necessary is positioned to win games in a lot of different ways.
And so it is with you, and with your team. There are times you have to play fast because of imposing deadlines. You have to get a lot done in a short amount of time, perhaps working extra hours in the process. There are other times it is crucial to slow down, regroup, plan, and work on the work and not only in the work. Whether you are playing fast or slow, you have a similar goal – manage your time in such a way that you will get maximum results.
Good time management is easy to talk about and harder to implement. Here are our three critical components to winning the time management battle:
Know Your Opponent's Tendencies: Winning teams know their strengths and also play with their opponent’s tendencies in mind. The first question you might be asking is, who is my opponent? When it comes to time management, your greatest opponent is likely yourself. From as far back as Socrates, the best leaders have understood that “Knowing thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” This is why it's so critical to make efforts to know your ways of thinking, working, and collaborating. Whether it be in the form of a Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment (reach out to us for how to get started!) or a Communication Style Quiz, we encourage assessments to best understand your tendencies. If you tend to play fast – regularly responding to the urgent rather than the important – you must push back against this tendency and do the hard work of preparation, planning, team building, mentoring, and appreciation. If you tend to play slow and overanalyze, you too must push back. Dictate your pace and realize it likely will require you to push against your tendencies.
Establish a Game Plan: Knowing yourself well will help you determine where you should plan to go with your day, your week, your month, and even your year. The more you know and commit to ahead of time, the more likely you are to follow through, and the more likely you will be able to look back satisfied with how you managed your time. Here’s a quick, practical test to see how you are doing in establishing a game plan: Do you know what you will be doing next Thursday at 2 pm (pick a couple of other random times as well)? Will it honestly be a strategic use of your time? If you can answer these two questions with a "yes," then you are likely doing well in this area.
Execute: Once you have done the difficult work of knowing yourself and creating a plan, the even harder work of execution comes in. Space does not allow us to begin to unpack this topic, but suffice it to say it requires more than (but not less than) a “Get 'er done” commitment. A favorite resource of ours is the outstanding book The Four Disciplines of Execution, by McChesney, Covey, and Huling. If you will create a game plan that allows space to read this book, you’ll thank us later.
If you need further guidance on how to best manage your time to win in the workplace and beyond, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Best of luck with your work week ahead – and your March Madness bracket!